Where-to-Web-to-Print? Hosted versus On-Site

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1 Where-to-Web-to-Print? Hosted versus On-Site

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3 Overview Where-to-Web-to-Print? Web-to-Print has crossed the chasm. This concept was introduced by Geoffrey A. Moore in his book Crossing The Chasm. Moore explains that new technologies typically go through stages of acceptance. Web-to-Print solutions have crossed the chasm from Early Adopters to the Early Majority. This jump has taken longer than many industry experts expected, but there is no doubt that it has taken place. This means that the question for print providers is no longer: Should I implement a Web-to-Print solution? but rather: Which Web-to-Print solution is right for my organization? Once you make the decision to embrace a Web-to-Print solution, the next big decision is whether to have the solution Hosted Off-Site or On-Site. There are distinct advantages to both options. The purpose of this document is to analyze key factors that may determine which implementation mode is best for your organization: Hosted or On-Site. Our intention is not to determine which vendor s solution is best for your organization. However, you may want to consider a vendor that offers the same software in either configuration. This scenario provides the flexibility for you to change modes without incurring significant costs. These would include costs to switch applications, retrain users, transfer documents, change job ticketing; as well as set up pricing, paper and finishing options for a new system. Some vendors use software with a very limited feature set for Off-Site Hosting and a totally different software application for On-Site. In this case, changing modes would be the same as going to a totally different company for a new solution.

4 In this analysis, we will focus on the needs of the Enterprise Print Provider rather than on the commercial, print-for-pay print provider. The Enterprise Print Provider is defined as an in-house Print Center in a corporation, hospital, college or university, school district, financial service, insurance, or other enterprises. The needs of these organizations are often different from those of the commercial printer, primarily because Enterprise Print Provider customers are repeat customers within their own organizations. Enterprise Print Centers also handle confidential, internal documents. Most of these organizations must compete with outside vendors for their business, and many have some form of chargeback system for print jobs provided. We define a Hosted solution as a solution where the server is running the application and storing all the documents is at a facility outside of the enterprise s environment. We define an On-Site solution as a solution where the server is running the application and storing all the documents. The server is installed at the enterprise, generally inside the enterprise s firewall. The Enterprise Print Provider needs to consider six (6) primary factors when deciding between a Hosted solution and an On-Site solution: Document Security IT Involvement Speed and Internet Bandwidth Costs Time-to-Market Server Maintenance Startup and Ongoing Costs Document Security For many organizations that face regulatory compliance issues, such as financial institutions (Sarbanes-Oxley) and healthcare organizations (HIPAA), document security is a primary concern. An On-Site solution offers clear advantages because documents are stored safely behind the enterprise s firewall. A hosted solution can provide protection as documents are transmitted over the Internet with encryption or using an enterprise s dedicated Virtual Private Network (VPN). This may provide enough protection for many enterprises; however, keep in mind that hosted documents are only as secure as the outside hosting facility. Be sure to check with your enterprise s legal department to make sure you are allowed to transmit confidential jobs to a third party. IT Involvement This is a major concern of many Print Centers. The perception is that IT involvement may lead to delays or added costs, which could be avoided with a Hosted solution. Let s review how IT may become involved with both solutions: Authentication (such as LDAP) If the enterprise wants to use existing authentication systems for sign-on, IT must be involved to define and manage the interface. The amount of involvement is the same for either a Hosted or an On-Site solution. Often, the On-Site solution is easier to implement because it is inside of the enterprise s firewall.

5 Firewall security With an On-Site solution, the documents remain inside the firewall, and printing uses the enterprise s internal network (most likely 100 Mbps or faster). With a Hosted solution, if the intent is to print directly to the production printers, IT involvement is required. A secure method of file transfer from outside of the network is required. Often this is accomplished using the enterprise s VPN to the Hosted facility. A common compromise in the Hosted mode is a File > Print solution, where operators in the Print Center download the files from the Hosting site via their browsers, use a local print driver to manually create the job ticket, and print the job to a printer on the internal network. While this workflow eliminates one touchpoint with IT, it also eliminates the productivity gained by automatically sending ticketed jobs directly to the printers. Server location No IT involvement is required for a Hosted solution or an On-Site solution if the server is located in the Print Center. However, many enterprises choose to locate an On-Site server in IT s data center. The advantages are a clean environment with power and cooling designed for a server room and access to standard backup procedures. Our experience is that over 50% of the On-Site servers are located in the Print Center, along with numerous PCs running other software applications. Network usage, cost and speed Although these factors will be reviewed in more detail below, they are discussed under IT because they may be major factors in influencing the choice between a Hosted or On-Site solution. If file sizes of documents are large (over 10 MB), or if print volumes are high, then speed and cost may be issues with a Hosted solution. Internet bandwidth is not free. Transfer of many large files from a Hosted facility may increase Internet bandwidth costs, and may potentially result in enterprise wide network performance issues. In addition to bandwidth speed and cost concerns, for secure file transfer from a Hosted site, many enterprises will require transfer over VPN. This requires IT involvement. In summary, if an enterprise accepts a File > Print workflow, a Hosted solution will reduce IT involvement. If the intention is to print directly to production printers, or use authentication for sign-on, there is little difference in the level of IT involvement between Hosted and On-Site solutions. If a VPN setup is required to the Hosting site, IT involvement for the Hosted solution may actually be greater than for On-Site. Speed and Internet Bandwidth Costs Typical Enterprise users expect almost instantaneous response when completing any Internet transaction. Seconds seem like minutes when you are waiting for a response on your PC. Most Internet transactions require a very small amount of data transfer. Buying items on Amazon or ebay, or updating a CRM system like Salesforce.com generally only requires the transfer of small amounts of data

6 measured in thousands of bytes (Kb). In comparison, documents in a Web-to- Print solution are measured in millions of bytes (MB). Thus we can see that not all Hosted applications are the same. Typical Hosted applications, like Salesforce.com, use very little Internet bandwidth, so speed and cost may not be issues. However, bandwidth speed and cost will almost definitely be issues to consider with Web-to-Print applications, due to the probability of much larger file sizes. Network bandwidth speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbps). File sizes are measured in bytes. Note that 1 byte equals 8 bits. So a 10 Megabyte file is actually 80 Megabits. This is important because when you calculate network speed, you divide the file size in (Megabits) by the speed (in Megabits per second). As an example, a T1 line, the standard for a fast, reliable Internet connection for businesses today, has a throughput of 1.54 Mbps. Enterprises with very high Internet traffic could have multiple T1s, a T3 (44 Mbps with costs of $10,000- $15,000 per month), or even 100+ Mbps connections. Bandwidth can also be purchased based on consumption. Typical costs can range from $2 - $7 per GB transferred each month. The combinations can get quite complicated. For simplicity, we will focus on the T1 standard. That means a total of 1.54 Megabits can be transferred per second. If there is no other network traffic, a 10 MB file, which is 80 Megabits, would transfer in about 52 (80 divided by 1.54). If there is other traffic on the T1, the throughput of this transfer would be reduced. (Transfers are actually larger when encryption is added for file transfer security and handshaking is factored in, but we will ignore those factors for this analysis.) Below is a table of some sample network throughput. It compares a T1 Internet connection and a typical 100 Mbps internal network. The maximum speed is the transfer rate with no other traffic. The average speed assumes typical utilization of the network by many users. File Size T1 (1.54 Mbps) Maximum 1 MB MB MB (8.7 minutes) Network Speed T1 (1.54 Mbps) 100 Mbps (max.) Average internal network , (21.7 minutes) 100 Mbps (avg.) internal network The table shows how long it may take to transfer a file over the internet (T1) in a Hosted solution, compared to transfer rates over an internal network (100 Mpbs) in an On-Site solution. For example, on average, a 10 MB file may take 2+ minutes to transfer over the Internet, compared to fewer than 2 (1.6) over an internal network. So, what does all this mean in our Web-to-Print analysis? Web-to-Print is not your typical Hosted business model. File sizes and the number of transactions

7 are considerable factors in determining transfer speeds and costs. The cost of a T1 can vary from $500-$1,000+ per month. An average-to-high-volume enterprise with hundreds of jobs per month, and typical file sizes ranging up to 100 MB, will use significant bandwidth and may experience transfer speeds well below expectations in a Hosted solution. Even with a dedicated T1, adding an average cost of $500-$1,000 per month to the solution may not provide speeds fast enough for the transfer of many large files. In any case, Internet bandwidth costs need to be factored into the analysis of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for a Hosted solution. There are also corresponding Internet bandwidth costs for the provider of the Hosted solution. These costs may be passed on to the enterprise as well, in addition to the enterprise s Internet costs. An On-Site solution is typically installed on a sub-network dedicated to the Print Center. Files submitted over the Internet are still subject to the speed of the Internet connection for the initial download. However, subsequent printing, reordering, or ordering of documents already stored in the catalog, will be transferred at standard internal network speeds of 100 Mbps or faster. Since the transfer is typically over the Print Center s network, the full bandwidth is available at no additional cost to the enterprise. For transfer of files directly to the printers, the On-Site solution will also be considerably faster due to the faster internal network speed. Time-to-Market How quickly can you get up and running? A common assumption is that time-tomarket for a Hosted solution will be faster than an On-Site solution. What factors affect the timing? The main difference is the timeframe to configure, ship, and install a server on-site. Some On-Site solution providers ship a pre-configured server, so the setup is as simple as connecting a computer to your network, while other On-Site solution providers may have the enterprise purchase a PC and load the software themselves. Once the server is connected, the actual setup should be the same as for the Hosted solution. Whether the provider ships the pre-configured server, or the enterprise purchases it on their own, it will generally be 1-3 weeks before the server is on your network. After this server setup phase, the actual configuration, loading of documents, and training of staff should be the same for Hosted or On-Site particularly if the same software is used in either case. We have found that the critical path to a successful launch and successful timeto-market are more about the roll-out of the solution than the setup. Focus on how you will communicate to your users, explain the benefits and train them so that they will use the system. It will be transparent to them whether the solution is Hosted or On-Site. If you don t have the resources or experience to roll out the solution to your internal audience, your solution provider may also provide launch kits or professional services to assist you. Do not underestimate the importance of successful internal launch of your Webto-Print solution, or the potential costs. If you build it, they will come is not the mantra of a successful Web-to-Print implementation.

8 Server Maintenance There is no server maintenance for a Hosted solution. The cost of hardware and its maintenance is bundled into the Hosted pricing, and the vendor is responsible for maintaining the hardware. An On-Site solution requires a server. You should have a maintenance agreement for the server. The most vulnerable part of any server configuration is potential hard drive failure. We recommend at least a RAID 1, a.k.a. mirrored configuration, with all data stored redundantly on separate disks. The cost for this added protection is very low, particularly when compared to the cost of losing data. Files should also be backed up on a regular basis. Most enterprises already have a backup procedure for files already stored in the Print Center. Many solution providers also perform regular maintenance on the server remotely as part of their service agreement. Some very high-volume users may also choose to add a backup server for failover. Cost Be sure to consider the TCO. For On-Site solutions, make sure you include the annual maintenance and support for software and hardware. Be sure to ask whether all future software upgrades are included in your maintenance agreement. Some solution providers include upgrades, while others may charge for them. For an On-Site solution, your vendor should require remote access, so they can provide immediate response to questions or service issues. For Hosted solutions, make sure you include Internet bandwidth costs for your enterprise and for the hosting site. Although some Print Centers may not budget for Internet costs (covered by the corporation), if you suddenly start to dramatically increase your bandwidth consumption, you may get a knock on your door from someone who does care about those costs. In today s economic conditions, everyone needs to look at the total cost to the enterprise, not just to one department. Timeframe is also a major consideration when comparing Hosted and On-Site solutions. Most On-site solutions are leased for 3-5 years, while most Hosted solutions require an annual commitment. Launching a Web-to-Print solution is a long-term investment. If you are not committed, it will fail. Plan on at least 3-5 years for either solution, or don t even start the transition. Summary Did you really think there was a simple answer? Hopefully, this analysis will help you determine what is right for you. Keep your options flexible. I ll provide one example. One of our customers, a major healthcare provider, started off with a Hosted solution. They were very successful in building volume and gaining customer acceptance. Their volume quickly grew to about 1,400 orders per month. File sizes ranged considerably, from under 1 MB to over 100 MB. IT was actively involved in connecting their VPN with our hosting facility. Most of their orders were standard catalog orders, meaning that the files were stored on the Hosted system. Response-time for users ordering documents was fine, because they seldom downloaded large files. Due to the high volume of jobs, the Print Center took advantage of the production capabilities of the solution to send ticketed jobs

9 directly to their production printers. However, due to the size of many of their catalogued items, they experienced time delays. Although they fine-tuned their VPN, they still found it was too slow for these larger files. After two years as a Hosted customer, they decided to move to our On-Site solution. Since our Hosted solution is identical to the On-Site version, the transfer was very easy for them, with no down-time for end-users or the Print Center. We configured a server with an exact image of their Hosted system. IT then installed the server in their data center and they were transitioned in one day. Print Center personnel feedback was immediate and very positive, stating: This is great, everything is ten times faster. They were right, although it is actually more than 50 times faster, with transfer speeds in rather than minutes. How large are your files? File size may be the deciding factor. The best bet is to consult with a Web-to-Print provider that offers both Hosted and On-Site solutions. Together you can determine your best path, now that you have crossed the chasm! About RSA Rochester Software Associates (RSA) has provided digital printing software solutions since It offers solutions for datacenter as well as in-plant/crd applications. WebCRD is RSA s award winning Web-to-Print solution. It was chosen Best of Show at the 2007 & 2008 On Demand Conference & Exposition, the largest digital printing & automated production event in North America. WebCRD is available as an On-Site or Hosted solution. RSA solutions are available directly from RSA (visit or through most major print providers including Xerox, Ricoh, Canon, Konica Minolta, IKON, InfoPrint, Océ, Sharp and Toshiba.

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